Mercedes Wolff: “We’ve seen from Barcelona the margins at the front have shrunk”


World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Formula 1 - Winter Test 1. Toto Wolff - Mercedes AMG Petronas. Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Tuesday 28th February2017. Digital Ref :1781CB1D4021

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team Boss Toto Wolff is eager to get the 2017 Formula One season underway, after a lot of hard work has gone in over the winter break, to ensure the squad are ready for the season ahead and the new 2017 regulations.

“The target with these new regulations was to make this generation of F1 cars the quickest in the history of the sport, and looking at the results from testing, we’re well on the way to achieving that.   “Having spoken to the drivers, these machines are violent – just like Formula 1 cars should be. I have been out on track watching them and, next to the previous generation of cars, these are properly spectacular cars.   “From a fan perspective – and a part of me will always be a fan – it really is something special. Any true motorsport lover simply has to see them in the flesh.”

With a change to the Mercedes driver line-up following the retirement of Nico Rosberg, Wolff is confident the new pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will be as successful as the previous one, and their winning formula will continue.

The driver’s feedback from testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was very positive, and they are both looking forward to the challenge that awaits them.

“Lewis and Valtteri are in a great place. They have a respectful and friendly relationship from what we’ve seen in our team briefings so far.

“It’s an exciting time for them because these new cars are a real physical challenge. Both felt from testing that the G-Forces are enormous and they are embracing the new challenge of F1 2017.”  

Having enjoyed success for the last three seasons, a change in the rules is always a worrying time for the team on top, especially as history suggests it could signal their downfall. Nevertheless, Wolff relishes that challenge and is confident the Brackley based team have the staff and resources to enjoy another bumper year.

“We have tackled with determination the challenge of the new regulations.

“We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules – but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before. In a way, it’s just what the doctor ordered. To have such a challenge is good for the team.   “There is an art to managing expectations. You must not set them too low – but you must also keep them under control.

“With new regulations, everyone starts with zero points. It provides opportunities as well as risks for every team on the grid. You only need to look back to 2009 to see how unpredictable Formula 1 can be, with Brawn winning the Championship after being on the brink of extinction.”  

World © Octane Photographic Ltd. Bottas – Mercedes AMG Petronas. Digital Ref: 1784LB1D3583

The Austrian is taking nothing for granted however, and will be cautious of what his competitors could bring to the table in this new era, but believes Mercedes have done everything in their power to produce a world-beating machine once again.

“We enter 2017 with that mind set. We take every one of our rivals seriously and respect every team’s ability to find that magic bullet. They are all full of very clever people – the best in the world in their fields.

“We have done the best job we possibly could over the winter and, if we are not the fastest in Melbourne, then it’s about finding out why and what needs to be done to get us back to that top spot.

“It’s a challenge we will take on with great motivation and energy. Setbacks can provide a long-term opportunity because you constantly need to improve yourself.“  

Winter testing showed that things should be close at the top of the order this year, and perhaps Mercedes will not enjoy such a dominant presence at the top of the leader board. However, results from pre-season testing can only really be taken with a pinch of salt as there is much information that remains unknown, and no one truly knows where they stand in comparison to their rivals.

Early indications say that 2017 will be more than a one horse race, but we will not know for sure how close, until the Australian Grand Prix gets underway at Albert Park on Sunday.

“What we’ve seen from Barcelona is that the margins at the front of the field have shrunk. We’ll see how that pans out in Melbourne, because we still don’t know about the fuel loads, weights or power settings of the other cars.

“As the old saying goes, it is when the flag drops that the bullshit really stops.”